Quick Post

My dog is terrified of other dogs!

New Topic
My dog is terrified of other dogs!
  • When I adopted my dog (she was 6 yrs old) she was really social with other dogs, and when I would take her for walks, she would happily go up to other dogs and sniffle around.

    About a year ago, I took her to my mom's place for her to look after my dog while I went away for the weekend, and my mom's dog attacked my dog. She wasn't injured, just shaken up pretty bad. From that point on, Sasha is now TERRIFIED of every dog she sees, big or small. In the last few months, she's also really started barking and howling at other dogs that pass by our place. She's been to obedience training and she understands all of her commands, but when she sees another dog, everything goes out the window. She completely ignores me and freaks out.

    She doesn't attack other dogs, thankfully. When they get close enough to her, she yips and runs away and pulls on the leash to run.

    I've tried everything I can think of to stop this. I don't coddle her when other dogs come around, I walk straight ahead and keep her moving forward, I give her short quick checks with the leash when she starts getting whiny and strains ahead, I even stop to have other dogs sniff her and to have her sniff them but she pulls away so hard and whines.

    In the house, i've tried squirting her with water when she starts to howl at passing dogs, i've said "NO" and made a loud sharp noise, but that doesn't work. The only thing that keeps her in line is if I put her on her leash and attach it to me. Then she follows me around and doesn't bark obviously because she doesn't have the opportunity to run to the window howling.

    HELP!

  • oy... i really feel your pain! i have one that is terrified of other dogs!

    i think SLOW desensitizing is the key. for one, i would make sure to never verbally or physically correct her, because she is in a state of anxiety and you are adding to that. so when you are in the house, and she barks and houls, instead of telling her "no" try giving some other command, like sit, down, jump, or any trick she might know and love doing for you. dont expect that to work the first time either! it will take some patience and persistance. when you are out, make sure you DONT let other dogs approach and sniff her. this is too terrifying for her at this point. work on just being ok, when other dogs are at a distance. if you havent taught it already, this is a good time to start teaching the "watch me" command. this one will eventually be her cue, to stop paying attention to other dogs, and pay attention to you instead. of course you have to start this off at home without distractions.

    one thing that helped for me, but MANY people have good arguments against is, i would pick up jason (the one who has the issues with other dogs) when other, unleashed dogs are around. no coddling, but just pick him up and praise him, if he is not growling or otherwise reacting to the dog at his feet. again, may people are very much against that, so i dont know how it would work on another dog, but it helped for me, cause eventually my dog realized that i am there to get him out of what he perceives as a sticky situation.

    i dont know if that helped at all, and i am sure others WAY more experienced will be along real soon to give some better advice....

    oh, and welcome to the forum, by the way!!

  • antsinmypants

    When I adopted my dog (she was 6 yrs old) she was really social with other dogs, and when I would take her for walks, she would happily go up to other dogs and sniffle around.

    About a year ago, I took her to my mom's place for her to look after my dog while I went away for the weekend, and my mom's dog attacked my dog. She wasn't injured, just shaken up pretty bad. From that point on, Sasha is now TERRIFIED of every dog she sees, big or small. In the last few months, she's also really started barking and howling at other dogs that pass by our place. She's been to obedience training and she understands all of her commands, but when she sees another dog, everything goes out the window. She completely ignores me and freaks out.

    She doesn't attack other dogs, thankfully. When they get close enough to her, she yips and runs away and pulls on the leash to run.

    I've tried everything I can think of to stop this. I don't coddle her when other dogs come around, I walk straight ahead and keep her moving forward, I give her short quick checks with the leash when she starts getting whiny and strains ahead, I even stop to have other dogs sniff her and to have her sniff them but she pulls away so hard and whines.

    In the house, i've tried squirting her with water when she starts to howl at passing dogs, i've said "NO" and made a loud sharp noise, but that doesn't work. The only thing that keeps her in line is if I put her on her leash and attach it to me. Then she follows me around and doesn't bark obviously because she doesn't have the opportunity to run to the window howling.

    HELP!

     

    Please STOP any "quick checks" with the leash, and don't squirt her. All you are doing is increasing her anxiety rather than reducing it, and that will perpetuate the problem you are having.  Currently, she sees another dog, is nervous, so she whines or pulls, then you react, and now she has something MORE to worry about, which is that she perceives you to be nervous, too.  For her, if that's the case, she is left "alone" to handle things, and she doesn't think she can  Instead of trying to solve this with punishment, grab a copy of "Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons.  It was written for management of the dog aggressive dog, but the principles within it will help you to refocus your dog's attention on you, give her confidence that you can handle things, and help her to tolerate the presence of other dogs near her very gradually.  You can get it at dogwise.com if amazon doesn't have it.  The last thing you tried, believe it or not, is closer to what the solution is - keep the dog's attention focused on you and gradually desensitize her to the presence of other dogs.   

  • Keeping Sasha's attention is probably the biggest issue we have with her.  She is very stubborn.  One thing that I have notice in general, just from all the dog shows i've watched, and seeing other people walk with their dogs is that Sasha never ever looks at my husband or I when we walk her.  Never.  She doesn't look to us to see where we're going, she never looks at us "just to see that we're coming" or whatever. Nothing at all.  It's almost like we don't exist.

    We adopted Sasha when she was 6, and prior to living with us, she had no formal training at all.  I enrolled her in a class and she did really well in it.  She still doesn't know lie down, but she will sit and stay.

     
    I'm not really sure what this is, or what to make of it.  It's weird.  She loves the attention we give her, and she loves to play with us, but when we're out for a walk, she doesn't even acknowledge us.
     

  • that is actually quite normal.... it's because when you're outside you are just about the least interesting thing in the world... the dogs you see at dog shows have been TAUGHT to pay attention to their handler.

    make yourself more interesting, by playing games, carrying treats etc...

    my dogs are the same way. at home they wont leave my side... i have to shuffle and walk, cause they are always around my feet. outside though... hmmm, different matter, lol.

  • I've tried everything I can think of to stop this. I don't coddle her when other dogs come around, I walk straight ahead and keep her moving forward, I give her short quick checks with the leash when she starts getting whiny and strains ahead, I even stop to have other dogs sniff her and to have her sniff them but she pulls away so hard and whines.

    In the house, i've tried squirting her with water when she starts to howl at passing dogs, i've said "NO" and made a loud sharp noise, but that doesn't work. The only thing that keeps her in line is if I put her on her leash and attach it to me. Then she follows me around and doesn't bark obviously because she doesn't have the opportunity to run to the window howling.

    this is totally inappropriate and verges on cruelty. If a man attacked you and beat you up, do you think it would help to have someone drag you up to terrifying strange men and sharply hit you with a stick and scold you when you objected/ freaked out in terror? of course not.

    I think you really need some professional help at this point. The poor dog is totally traumatized and your punishment approach has made it worse. A good behaviorist can give you insight into how to deal with fear issues, and should have a "therapy dog" available to help your dog get over her fears.

  • mudpuppy

    this is totally inappropriate and verges on cruelty. If a man attacked you and beat you up, do you think it would help to have someone drag you up to terrifying strange men and sharply hit you with a stick and scold you when you objected/ freaked out in terror? of course not.



    Oh for pete's sake! Take a chill pill. Antsinmypants has come looking for help not a whipping.



    I've tried everything I can think of to stop this. I don't coddle her when other dogs come around, I walk straight ahead and keep her moving forward, I give her short quick checks with the leash when she starts getting whiny and strains ahead, I even stop to have other dogs sniff her and to have her sniff them but she pulls away so hard and whines.

    In the house, i've tried squirting her with water when she starts to howl at passing dogs, i've said "NO" and made a loud sharp noise, but that doesn't work. The only thing that keeps her in line is if I put her on her leash and attach it to me. Then she follows me around and doesn't bark obviously because she doesn't have the opportunity to run to the window howling.


    I think for the most part you are on the right track. You do not want to coddle her. When you do encounter another dog you should keep moving forward as you described. If your dog will not focus on you (ignoring other dog) I would suggest having some yummy treats in your pocket. When you see another dog approaching shorten up the leash and start dispensing the treats (rapid fire) while you pass by. The idea is to stop any focus on the other dog. Begin the treating before her focus locks on the other dog. I don't necessarily agree that leash correction are inappropriate or cruel. I will, on occasion use mild leash corrections myself. But if they are not effective in refocusing her attention then there is no point to using them. JMO

    I agree that desensitizing your dog is what you ultimately want to achieve. I would not let other dogs approach her and sniff until you do a lot more work.


    By the way welcome to the forum!
  • Welcome, ants! I have a "fraidy-dog" too, although she was never attacked and I don't think she's as "bad" as your poor girl.

    I agree with janet (I think it was janet) and denise that slow desensitization is the key here.  That's what I'm doing and we're having great success. It is slow work, but if it works, that's what counts. I would try to keep my distance from other dogs for a while and then approach them slowly to the point where your girl doesn't freak out. In the house, you may have to keep her away from the window. Maybe gate her on a room without access to the front windows or something.

    Also, work on having her make eye contact with you. That's a GREAT exercise to get her to focus on you instead of other "scary" dogs.  

  • I think for the most part you are on the right track. You do not want to coddle her. When you do encounter another dog you should keep moving forward as you described. If your dog will not focus on you (ignoring other dog) I would suggest having some yummy treats in your pocket. When you see another dog approaching shorten up the leash and start dispensing the treats (rapid fire) while you pass by. The idea is to stop any focus on the other dog. Begin the treating before her focus locks on the other dog. I don't necessarily agree that leash correction are inappropriate or cruel. I will, on occasion use mild leash corrections myself. But if they are not effective in refocusing her attention then there is no point to using them. JMO

    this is absolutely incorrect. Fixing this problem has nothing to do with "refocusing" her attention and all to do with the fact that she has learned dog = terror/pain. You need to re- teach her that dog = good stuff.  Every time you give her a collar correction or squirt her with water or scold her or tow her briskly along by a tight short leash in the presence of another dog you are just confirming her impression that dog= terror/pain. In order to teach her that dog = good stuff you have to ensure that nothing unpleasant occurs when she is near a dog. Since going into a state of terror is unpleasant of and in itself, you have to keep her far enough away from dogs to avoid going into that state. Once she is enjoying viewing dogs from 100 feet away due to your behavior at that distance, you can gradually decrease the distance.

    Oh, and shortening/tightening the leash in the presence of other dogs is a really good way to teach your dog to go into a reactive frenzy whenever you see another dog. The tension of the owner gets transmitted down the leash. But this particular dog seems to be well-beyond mildly reactive and into full-blown phobia and some professional help seems like a really good idea.

  • I was not suggesting this would "fix' the problem, but rather a way to manage the dog until he can be desensitized. I merely suggested shortening the leash because the OP said her dog "pulls away so hard". A short leash offers better control and can be a safety factor when a dog is pulling hard. That's all! 

    Edited to Add: Sigh! In any case it seems like we might have lost the OP anyways. Hope things get better for her. 

  • First I would like to thank most of you for your constructive critiscm and your advice.  

     

    As for mudpuppy: I am not an animal abuser. I don't beat my dog, and I do not yank her leash and force her to socialize with other dogs.  When I take her for walks and other dogs are nearby, then I encourage her to check them out, and if she runs then we move on.  That's it.  When I give her a little tug with the leash, it's to get her attention, not to strangle her or break her neck.  Feel free to keep your snarky posts and opinions to yourself, and feel free to post when you have something constructive to say. 

     

    *edited to add* I have stopped all of the above things that I was doing that I thought was right. I watch the Dog Whisperer (who seems to attract a lot of controversy here) and was trying suggestions that I saw on his show.


     

  • antsinmypants
    I watch the Dog Whisperer (who seems to attract a lot of controversy here) and was trying suggestions that I saw on his show.

    Yeah... He is the subject of a few discussions here and there. Smile I love him, myself. But not everyone does. I use leash corrections all the time. And some people think it's abuse. Oh, well. Smile

  • mudpuppy

     and should have a "therapy dog" available to help your dog get over her fears.

    Don't overlook this because of the messenger.  It doesn't have to be a "therapy dog", just a dog that is not reactive to other dogs.  A dog that is friendly to you and you can engage with while your dog watches.  Your dog needs to get over the fear and best one for the job is another dog.  You may want to look into Constructional Aggression Treatment.  It is meant for dog on dog aggression but would work well for a fearful dog.  It is based on Operant Conditioning and rewards the dog for what it wants most....making the ichey thing go away.

     

  •  If I were in your position, I would seek help from a professional trainer.  Message boards and dog training shows are fine for suggestions, but nothing beats having a professional actually watching you, your reactions, and your dogs reactions in certain situations.  Lots of times they catch things you might have missed about your posture, things you may be communicating to the dog without realizing it, the dog's body language, etc.

    Teaching a "leave it" and "watch me" command would be a good start to getting her focus on you.  The more she is allowed to fixate on another dog and practice the behavior the worse things are going get.  When you walk her I would have the leash at a short enough length to have proper control, but not tight--a tightened leash can really escalate the situation.  Pay attention to your body posture, etc.  Do your best to make sure you are not stiff, tense, etc and be sure you are breathing.  All of these things will only add to the dog's tension.

    This article on teaching a dog self control might help too:  http://www.flyingdogpress.com/selfpg.html